Posted by: hevallo | March 6, 2008

As Turkey Drops More Bombs on Kurdistan, Kurdish Students in South Kurdistan Pledge to Join PKK.

“I’m a fighter on the inside, my priority is to defend Kurdistan,” said a female college student in Dohuk, a mountainous snowbound town in far northern Iraq near the border with Turkey.

Roshhat, 24, whose name means “sunrise’ in Kurdish, is among several Iraqi Kurds in Dohuk who have vowed to take up arms for their homeland if the Turkish military strikes again.

“I’m ready to join them, nothing can prevent me if that’s what it takes,” said Roshhat, who declined to give her last name for security reasons.

“Don’t be fooled by my Western clothes.” The danger of another Turkish incursion is real after a week-long offensive that ended last week on the snowy mountains of the Zap region near the Turkish border, where Kurdish rebels have a base and a training camp.

Despite the troop pullout, Turkish army chief Yasar Buyukanit on Monday threatened further strikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels holed up in northern Iraq.

And on Wednesday the PKK claimed that Turkish warplanes and artillery had again fired on targets in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq — for the first time since the end of the offensive.

They said bombs and artillery shells hit targets in the Bazger valley, in the province of Arbil — the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, has been fighting for self-rule in Kurdish-majority southeast Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives. Roshhat said she and her friends closely followed news of the Turkish incursion last month and had already decided to join the fight.

“But Turkish troops withdrew, and the situation is back to normal,” she said. In any case “I’m ready to go back to the mountains and leave college to fight.” Another potential PKK recruit is Zakaryat, 23, who takes classes at the town’s technical institute.

“We are tired of the bloodshed and of losing our loved ones every day,” Zakaryat said. “Turkey must acknowledge our rights and give up their Ottoman mentality,” she added, referring to the empire based in Constantinople that ruled much of the Middle East until the end of World War I. “How long will Turkey continue thinking like this? Haven’t they understood yet that this issue would not be solved by fighting?.

“Do they not understand that we are fighting to take revenge because they killed our families? They must know that they cannot eliminate a whole nation,” she added. There are some 25 million people of Kurdish background in a swathe of land that encompasses areas of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

General Ilker Basbug, commander of Turkey’s land forces, said at a recent press conference that there were two main reasons why the PKK can get recruits: “effective PKK propaganda, plus unemployment and poverty.” Even veteran combatants like Ferat Beran, 31, say they are ready to take up arms again to “fight Turkey if it attacks Kurdistan again.”

Beran had fought 10 years in PKK ranks, but retired to recover from injuries suffered following a border clash with Turkish troops in 1997. “I was forced to abandon arms after realizing that I could no longer walk and move in the rugged mountains like the others,” he said. Beran turns to a large map of Kurdistan pinned to the wall of his humble home.

“I remain in contact with them. None of my close friends was killed, but I know nothing about the others.” Today Beran works in a small shop that sells water pipes in Dohuk, and barely makes enough to pay the bills. “For that reason, I am ready to fight again and to give up this life that I’m tired of,” he said.(AFP)

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